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QVQ Medium Rare Brisket - Step by Step

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  • Troutman
    Club Member
    • Aug 2017
    • 7488
    • aka Troutman Taco - Hanging Free in Tejas






    QVQ Medium Rare Brisket - Step by Step

    Medium rare brisket in and of itself seems to be a contradiction. We’re so used to the low and slow, take it up to over 200* succulent but well done brisket that we all strive to master. But there is an alternative to the traditional, you can call it a poor man’s prime rib. About a year ago I did a side-by-side of traditional versus rare brisket but since then we have had occasion for questioning such an animal. As such I thought I’d do a step-by-step to re-introduce medium rare brisket.

    Of course for those who have done the QVQ pastrami, this is essentially the same basic methodology. Having said that then, the only realistic way to have medium rare, fully tender brisket is via the sous vide process. A long period of time spent in the sous vide bath is the substitute for the low and slow smoking that is required to turn connective tissue and fat into a rendered and delicious piece of meat.

    I’m at somewhat of an advantage because our local grocery chain HEB caters to us Texas brisket junkies. Not only do they deal a wide range of full packers, they always take and piece out flats and points trimming them to where they are ready to cook. Of course instead of $2.99/lb they ask more like $4.99/lb but if you consider the fact that the end result will be nearly prime rib roast like, that isn’t too terrible, given the price of over $10/lb for rib roast these days. So for my Sunday family meal, I picked up this Prime One fully trimmed 4# point section and started with a good overnight dry brine with kosher salt.

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    Once dry brined I seasoned with an abundance of pepper, and some granulated garlic and onion powders. Of course any seasoning you might prefer could be applied at this stage. I was smoking some ribs so the brisket went on with them at about 275*. When the internal got to about 125* I pulled it off the smoker, about 2 hours’ worth of cooking time. I wanted to give it as much time to take on as much smoke as it could and develop some bark. As you can see I got the beginnings of rendered fat and along with some bark formation.

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    After a bit of a rest to cool down, I bagged then double bagged it to assure no leakage during the long bath. It then went into the sous vide bath at 130* for the next 52 hours. There are some who say to keep it there for as long as 72 hours. I really don’t think that’s necessary given the fact that it’s a prime piece of meat. The original recipe I began with was from Kenji and his recommendation of 52 hours works just fine.

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    Did the pinch test at the end of the bath time and plunged it into an ice bath for about 30 minutes. It went into the frig for a couple of days until I could get around to the final Q of the QVQ process on the weekend. Before its final smoke, I pulled it out of the bag and gave it another heavy dose of seasoning (including a dusting of Hank's Beef rub !!).

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    Fired up my 18” WSM (it was the only one clean) and added some mesquite wood chunks. I wanted an aggressive smoke for the final stage. Any type of wood that you think would give the flavor profile you enjoy would be appropriate.

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    Now here is the method I use for the final smoking. I started out rather slowly, about 220* and got the meat on rather cold at around 36*. I slowly ramped up the heat and eventually got the temp up to about 275* over the next two hours. I really wanted to re-set the bark and let the polymerization process re-develop as deeply as possible without exceeding my 130* to 132* original cook temps for a medium rare finish.

    I reached the final temp in about 2 hours of slow smoke, bark came out really pronounced and the meat took on a good deal of smoky taste.

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    Final result was as predicted. Fat was rendered, medium rare finish, tender and delicious. Even took on a smoke ring !!! I’d put the end result up against any low and slow conventional brisket out there. If you’re interested in trying something new and have the time, give this a try. We really enjoy the way it turns out. The beefiness of brisket, with the tenderness of rare prime rib. Troutman is out !!!!

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  • Mosca
    Charter Member
    • Oct 2014
    • 3642
    • PA
    • Large Big Green Egg, Weber Performer Deluxe, Weber Smokey Joe Silver, Maverick 732, DigiQ, and too much other stuff to mention.

    Wow... That looks great. Thanks for doing the experimenting!


    • BourBonQ
      Club Member
      • Oct 2017
      • 842
      • Lowcountry of South Carolina
      • Pit Barrel Cooker
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      • Polarbear777
        Club Member
        • Sep 2016
        • 1798

        Very nice. I love medium rare brisket.

        Ive been finishing QVQ hot, say 350F pit with the thought that a large thermal gradient gets the outside hot before the inside can catch up.

        Looks like lower works great too.
        Just shows us that we shouldn’t be satisfied with any process for too long. There are always variables to play with and tests to perform. Don’t want to be creating new “husband’s tales” as
        Meathead would say. Hard to optimize multiple day cooks because of time and variables.

        I do do like that with med-rare QVQ the leftovers don’t get dry. The only problem is you’ve got to make enough to ensure leftovers. :-)


        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          I got pix that show otherwise...show me your wears. Bark is the development or polymerization of the outer crust of the protein. At higher temps I make the argument that you are doing nothing but charring the very outer layer of seasoning. Sure it may look better, but every time I try it the internal temperature wants to shoot above the 135* mark. So I guess we can agree to disagree.

        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          Bark is both polymerization AND Maillard reaction.
          Eventually the rub begins to dry, the Maillard reaction kicks in and the chemistry of the outer layers begin to change. The Maillard reaction works best at high temps, but it can still occur, slowly, at low temps.

          Tell Meathead.

        • Meathead
          Meathead commented
          Editing a comment
          Actually bark is dried meat. Jerky.
      • RonB
        Club Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 13176
        • Near Richmond VA
        • Weber Performer Deluxe
          Pizza insert
          Smokenator 1000
          Cookshack Smokette Elite
          2 Thermapens
          lots of probes.

        Looks like a great job.


        • Red Man
          Club Member
          • May 2018
          • 1171
          • Western Washington

          Wow! That sounds/looks amazing! This is the one thing that really tempts me to get into SV.


          • Fire Art
            Fire Art commented
            Editing a comment
            Soft boiled Eggs 145 for 1 1/2 hrs is enough reason his Brisket over the top

          • Red Man
            Red Man commented
            Editing a comment
            Over the top is how I roll! 😁

          • BBQ_Bill
            BBQ_Bill commented
            Editing a comment
            I highly recommend getting one. I had a grass fed brisket that was WAY too thin and fatless to simply smoke, but SV along with some low temp smoking made it come out super, plus SV steaks are the bomb. The "edge to edge doneness" control is unbeatable.
        • theroc
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 773
          • Altadena, CA
            • Camp Chef 24" Smoke Vault
            • Buckaroo Chunk Wood Grill
            • Weber Summit Gold D Gas Grill
            • Fireboard
            • Thermapen MkIV

          Thanks for the fantastic and detailed description of your process Troutman. Can't wait to give this a try.
          Last edited by theroc; April 12, 2019, 06:23 PM.


          • jecucolo
            Club Member
            • Nov 2015
            • 1263
            • Schertz Texas
            • Pit Barrel Cooker
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              Anova Sous Vide

            I am cooking 2 briskets this weekend for a party. I am really tempted to QVQ one of them. Thanks for clearly laying out your process it is very understandable!
            I have copied and placed it in my google drive file.
            i noticed you did not hold it in a Cambro any reason for that?


            • BBQ_Bill
              BBQ_Bill commented
              Editing a comment
              Agreed, very informative. Thanks much!

            • parkerj2
              parkerj2 commented
              Editing a comment
              you also don't need to rest post sous-vide, according to most resources I've read. something about juices already being distributed evenly due to the method. too much science for my small brain.

            • Polarbear777
              Polarbear777 commented
              Editing a comment
              The hold for traditional process is to extend the time the meat is hot and that allows for more collagen breakdown without increasing the time at high temp. In this case the extended time under SV takes care of all that.
          • Thunder77
            Founding Member
            • Jul 2014
            • 2842
            • Halethorpe, MD
            • Weber 26.75" Kettle with SnS. Broil King Baron 5 burner. Akorn Kamado, and Akorn Jr kamado. Primo Oval Junior. Love grilling steaks, ribs, and chicken. Need to master smoked salmon Favorite cool weather beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest Favorite warm weather beer: Yuengling Traditional Lager All-time favorite drink: Single Malt Scotch

            Thank you for the write-up and the pictures! My stomach is growling right now. I really have to try this method.


            • Potkettleblack
              Club Member
              • Jun 2016
              • 1977
              • Beautiful Downtown Berwyn
              • Grill: Grilla Original / Weber Genesis EP-330 / OK Joe Bronco Drum
                Thermometers: Thermapen / iGrill 2 / Fireboard
                For Smoke: Chunks / Pellet Tube / Mo Pouch
                Sous Vide: Joule / Nomiku WiFi (RIP Nomiku)
                Disqus: Le Chef - (something something something) - it changes

              I say this post was well done, but it’s medium rare. Nice write up.


              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks bud, you have had a lot of influence over my SVd techniques and understanding.

              • jecucolo
                jecucolo commented
                Editing a comment
            • holehogg
              Club Member
              • Nov 2017
              • 2488
              • Port Elizabeth, South Africa

              Thanks again for your insightful and inspiring contributions.


              • Spinaker
                • Nov 2014
                • 10788
                • Land of Tonka
                • John "J R"
                  Instagram: JRBowlsby
                  Smokin' Hound Que
                  Minnesota/ United States of America

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                  Buck 119 Special
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                  Dexter 12" Brisket Sword
                  Next Major Purchase
                  Lone Star Grillz 24 X 48 Offset

                Great write up Troutman! I am going to give with a whirl sometime. Great photos!


                • Polarbear777
                  Club Member
                  • Sep 2016
                  • 1798

                  Troutman i think you need to put a QVQ brisket or pastrami recipe on the free side. We’ve been doing this ever since PKBs interview and while there still is room for tweaking, its too good for folks not to try.

                  Only issue is that’s it’s not so much a “recipe” as a “process”, because ingredients aren’t the thing that makes the difference.




                  • NapMaster
                    Club Member
                    • Jan 2019
                    • 589
                    • Denham Springs, LA
                    • WebberSummitGold6burnerLP, ShotGunSmoker

                      Avid Armor Vacuum Sealer

                    What i like about the process is there seems to be an abundance of time for napping. Very nicely presented.



                    • Thunder77
                      Thunder77 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      @Polarbear77, you can’t make anything foolproof, because fools are so ingenious! 😜

                    • NapMaster
                      NapMaster commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Polarbear777 I guess that leaves me out. 😂

                    • Polarbear777
                      Polarbear777 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I did use the word “almost” on purpose. :-)
                  • JGrana
                    Club Member
                    • Aug 2016
                    • 313

                    Reviving this thread. Tomorrow I am going to do the first step of the QVQ brisket. I have a Costco Prime packer, 11lbs, trimmed down to 7. I took a few inches of the flat for a future Pho and kept some of the scraps for the Pho broth. Rendered a bunch of the fat for Beef Love.

                    Did the dry brine late today. Will put on the smoker tomorrow and get some bark going, 2 hours or so. Will use a combination of hickory and cherry.
                    My plan is to SV at 135F for 48-50 hours. I want more medium/steak like. Do the quick chill and put in the fridge until the final smoke on Monday. Since I will have the KBQ running, I will also put a few chicken halves on for dinner.
                    Pics to follow ;-)


                    • Troutman
                      Troutman commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Good luck, look forward to the results !!

                    • Potkettleblack
                      Potkettleblack commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Go longer. Or at least pinch at 48 and see what you think.

                    • JGrana
                      JGrana commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Thanks guys. Potkettleblack, yes, I have been reading other SV brisket articles. Kenji goes as long as 72 hours at 135, Anova at least 50 hours. I will start the pinch test at 50 and go from there.



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